SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Dozens were injured when a charter bus veered off the highway and crashed into the woods in Schuylkill County Sunday afternoon.
More than 30 people were taken to the hospital after the bus crashed into the trees below exit 112 to Hegins off I-81 south, according to Tremont Fire Chief Brian Eisenacher.
“At this time we transported 32 to the local hospitals. Several went by helicopter, mostly by ground EMS to several hospitals throughout the county,” Eisanacher said.
The bus was carrying youth members and volunteers of the LCBC Church (Lives Changed by Christ) in Lancaster County. State police say around 2:30 Sunday afternoon the bus driver somehow lost control in the southbound lanes of I-81 near mile marker 111.7 and drove off the roadway.
The bus went down the hill and across State Route 25 where it blew through the center guide rail then hit an embankment and traveled about 50 yards into a wooded area, state police told Eyewitness News
“We had to pretty much work off the ladders alongside the bus to get the patients out. Everyone pretty much was inside the bus still when we got here, and we had mostly everybody transported probably within the hour,” Eisanacher said.
At least 20 different EMS units responded to the scene. Chief Eisanacher says they set up a landing zone at the nearby Schuylkill County Airport and EMS formed a triage center for patients on the side of the road.
PSP accident reconstruction and forensics unit used a drone to track the path of the bus. It’s a motorcoach owned and operated by Premier Number 1 Limousine Service out of Middletown, PA.
“Incidents like this take a lot of manpower to get people out of the bus and then down into ambulances that are waiting down here. It takes a pile of people to get something like this accomplished,” Eisanacher said.
Troopers tell Eyewitness News five of the people who were taken to the hospital are in critical condition.
A firefighter was also treated for minor injuries.
Eyewitness News reached out to the bus company and the church for an update. A representative with the bus company said they’ll release an official statement Monday.